At today's Alexa-dedicated event, Amazon unveiled a wide variety of new Echo devices, including the previously rumored Echo Sub subwoofer and the first Echo device without a speaker, the Echo Input. Refreshes to some of its current offerings were also among the announcements.
Starting with what's truly new, the Echo Sub falls in line with what we've heard before. It has a 100-watt speaker, and it can be paired with other compatible Echo devices to create a stereo or multi-room audio setup. The rumored price seems to have been off by quite a bit, with the subwoofer coming in at just under $130, but it's still significantly cheaper than devices like Apple's HomePod. Amazon is also allowing third-party Alexa devices to be configured in a multi-room setup through an SDK that will start rolling out later this year.
Another new device is the Echo Input, which is the first of its kind for the company. The Input works much like any other echo device, except it leaves out one major component: the speakers. Indeed, this new device is meant to be used with other speakers users may prefer, attaching all of Alexa's feature set to existing devices instead of attempting to replace them. The Echo Input will cost about $35, but Amazon expects it to be bundled with other speakers, too.
Going beyond the home, there's also a new Alexa-enabled device for cars. The Echo Auto connects to the digital assistant through your smartphone and plays audio through your car speakers. All of the features you'd expect are there, too, including driving directions and music playback. The device will sell for $50, but those who receive an invitation can get it at half the price.
Amazon has even gone ahead and presented a new wall clock under the Echo moniker. Aptly named Echo Wall Clock, it does basically what you'd expect from such a device, with the traditional analog hands for minutes and hours, except it will automatically adjust for Daylight Savings Time. What makes it special is the fact that it can connect to an Echo speaker and display any timers you've set. To do so, it uses a set of LED lights places around the edges, which count down the time. At $30, the Echo Wall Clock is one of the cheapest devices announced today.
The last of the new entrants in the Echo line are the Link and Link Amp. Both of these are amplifiers that are meant to be connected to existing audio devices, so they don't have their own microphones. The smaller Link will cost just under $200 when it launches later this year, and you'll be waiting a little longer for the Link Amp, which will run you $300.
But among the new kinds of devices, the old ones weren't completely forgotten. The popular $50 Echo Dot is getting a welcome refresh while keeping the same price. It features a similar design, but the sides of the device are now covered in fabric rather than being all-plastic, making it more similar to the new Echo Sub. It has just four microphones rather than the seven found in the previous model, but that may have been less than useful anyway. The new model also features better audio quality and its speakers are 70% louder as well.
The Echo Plus is getting its own update, and it too retains the price tag of the previous model, which sells for $150. Like other Echo devices announced today, it's now covered in fabric on the sides, but that's far from all that's new with this new version.
The refreshed Echo Plus now has a temperature sensor built-in, which it can use to control the environment automatically if necessary. It also features Local Voice Control, which grants Alexa some limited offline functionality for controlling turning your lights on or off, for example. Internet connections are almost always available at home, but it's great to see Amazon preparing for situations where that might not be the case.
If you've read this far and you thought the Echo Show wasn't going to get covered in fabric as well, you're sorely mistaken. The refreshed smart display will retain the same price tag of the current models (just under $230), but it reduces the size of the bottom bezel to make room for the bigger ten-inch display. In doing so, it also moves the speakers to the edges of the device, making them side-firing instead.
This is by far the biggest push Amazon has made in a while to get into the smart home market, with devices covering a ton of categories. This will likely put a lot of pressure on competitors such as Google, and it'll be interesting to see how they respond.